Protest Brings Awareness to Budget Cuts

Protesters gather around Kerckhoff steps

Graduate students, unions and faculty members protested against budget cuts, fee hikes and layoffs in front of Kerckhoff steps on Oct. 7.

The protest, held by Affiliates of UC Fights Back, drew an estimated crowd of a hundred in order to raise awareness on the financial situation.

Although the protest was organized by UCLA graduate students, the majority of those present came from various college campuses including UC Santa Barbara, Pierce College and Mission College.

“The protest is part of a larger coordinated nationwide day of action in defense of education,” said Hugo Sarmiento, a graduate student in urban planning.

As protesters shouted chants between speeches, students looked on briefly before continuing down Bruinwalk seemingly uninterested in the event.

Dan Boris, a public health student, emphasized the direct effect budget cuts will have on graduate students.

Boris stated his desire to serve a low income community health clinic after graduating, but argued that this might not be a possibility due to the substantial amount of debt that he will have accumulated due to the rise in student fees.

“We’ll be forced to find a high-paying job in order to pay back loans instead of serving poor communities,” said Boris.

In addition to graduate students, the largest visible presence was made of union and faculty members who urged students to get involved in the political process and vote in support of public education.

After a brief introduction, Ellis Stewart of University Professional and Technical Employees, a UC employee union, approached the audience and passionately laid out his union’s grievances.

“We need transparency,” said Stewart to a growing and responsive crowd.

Investing money into the UC system and fairness in the face of cutbacks were Stewart’s main talking points, as he accused the regents of hiding behind a bad economy.

“We are here and we are going to fight for our rights,” said Stewart, ending his speech to a roar of applause.

Graduate student Ellen Cachola then led the small crowd in a series of chants before delivering an impassioned poem.

Following her poem, Cachola instructed the crowd to split into two groups where facilitators led a short teach in.

“The goal of the teach-in is to get feedback from students and organizations,” said Ernesto Zumaya, external vice president of the Bruin Democrats. He led a discussion about coalition building.

Zumaya, who was not part of organizing the event, wanted to focus on expanding the analysis on larger issues and plan for a stronger student worker alliance.

The UCLA Police were visibly present as both foot and bicycle patrol officers were monitoring the rally.

Lieutenant Maureen O’Connell stated that they were on “standard protest deployment mode.”

There were no reported injuries or arrests made according to University of California Police Department.

UCLA Protest October 2010 from LaGente.org on Vimeo.

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